Yesterday my friend Kim Bonde and I attended the 11th Annual Cowgirl luncheon in Oakdale, which was a fundraiser for the Oakdale Cowboy Museum and one of the events kicking off rodeo week in Oakdale. Tickets for this event went on sale February 15th and the 460+ seat event sold out in less than four hours. Kim drove the hour drive to Oakdale the day the tickets went on sale to get our tickets. The luncheon was held at the Oakdale Community Center.
Oakdale is also known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” which is a title the town claimed long before its rodeo cowboys won 24 world championships. The small Texas town of Stephenville also claims to be the cowboy capital and says it has more cowboys per square foot than any place in the world. Hmmm. Wouldn’t want to be the referee in that battle.
The Cowgirl Luncheon was held at the Oakdale Community Center
This was the first time Kim and I attended the luncheon–or even heard of it for that matter–and we wondered if we would know many people. When we got in the line in front of the community center, we stood behind Bobbie Telles, who we have known for many years. Bobbie told us she stood in line for two hours to buy her tickets for the luncheon. Throughout the day we saw at least 25 people we that we knew and hadn’t seen in a long time, so we had a great time chatting with everyone. We even saw my cousin Stacie Holm Brown.
We saw my cousin Stacie Holm Brown at the luncheon
As we walked into the event, we were served champagne by some of the local cowboys and they continued to pour champagne for us throughout the luncheon. When it was time for lunch to be served, the cowboys lined up and began serving lunch to the female guests. The lunch was catered by Steve Medlen’s House of Beef in Oakdale. This was one of the best catered lunches I have ever had. If the lunch the House of Beef catered for nearly 500 people was so good, I’ll bet the restaurant is great.
The cowboys lining up to serve lunch
Lunch consisted of grilled steak with peppercorn sauce, garlic red potatoes, and salad
Bottles of Cowgirl Sisterhood wine were on each table
A few of the cowboys serving lunch were world champion cowboys while I was in high school. I have to admit it was a bit of a thrill to see these folks that we looked up to when we were kids. One of the servers sat at our table to eat his lunch when he was done serving. He was Daniel Green, who was a world champion roper around 2008-2010 (many years after I graduated high school). Daniel told us his daughters’ year-round softball games and his son’s sporting activities currently keep him from competing nationally. Good man, that Daniel–making his children a high priority!
World Champion Roper Jerold Camarillo filling my glass with champagne
Ace Berry, champion roper and bronc rider
Champion roper Daniel Green
For the last few years a woman involved in rodeo has been honored by the Cowboy Museum at the luncheon. This year the honoree was Emma “Pee Wee” Burge Ott. Emma was born in 1919 in Giswil, Switzerland and immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 9 years old. After passing through Ellis Island, her parents found work on a dairy farm in the Imperial Valley of California. Emma became proficient in riding dairy calves and at the age of 17 was hired to ride steers in an exhibition. Three years later she was roping competitively. She was taught to ride saddle broncs and it was the thrill of her life. She was only 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds, which earned her the nick name of “Pee Wee”. She took up trick riding, bronc riding, and relay and flat races for six years–riding at some major rodeos, which included the Pendleton Round Up. She retired from her career in rodeo at the age of 27. Pee Wee married a dairyman, Joe Ott, and they had four daughters. At the age of 50, she went to college and became a licensed vocational nurse. Pee Wee died last year at the age of 92. Her daughters and granddaughters were at the Cowgirl Luncheon to accept her award. What a story and what a gal that Pee Wee must have been!
Saddle bronc riding Emma “Pee Wee” Burge Ott. Photo borrowed from Oakdale Cowboy Museum’s Farewell Facebook Page.
Kim and I sure had a great time at the Cowgirl Luncheon and have plans to attend again next year. On our way home we encountered some bad weather, including passing through extreme rain, hail, and winds that had accompanied a tornado in the area!
Funnel cloud seen in the area we were driving through on the way home
Besides the Cowgirl luncheon and the Oakdale Rodeo, which by the way is this weekend, Oakdale is also the home of the Testicle Festival. The American Cowboy Magazine lists the festival as one of the top 101 events to attend in the west.